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How to tame the media creativity monster

Being an expert who’s providing comment or looking to create and pitch stories to the media on a regular basis can be a taxing business. There’s the pressure to find new angles for age-old news stories plus the added prodding from media (or Media Stable!) to provide an opinion or commentary on an event, issue or theme. Sometimes it can be difficult to be “feeling it” for every story or issue that arises. Or you might suffer from a “creativity block” where it seems no matter how hard you try  you can’t crack an original thought or opinion on a topic.

So, how do you keep the creative juices flowing and maintain a steady stream of relevant, on-point content? Here’s six ways to tame the creativity monster and keep story generation fresh and media ready.

  1. Broaden your horizons. Stop reading the same websites, newspapers – listening to the same radio stations and podcasts or watching the same TV news shows. If you’re constantly absorbing content from familiar sources, you immediately restrict the chance that you could read, see or hear something that would challenge your way of thinking or your world view. Be adventurous and spread your wings. Check out different (and reputable) sources of news and information. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the range of stories and potential angles.
  2. Talk to your colleagues, customers and clients. Ask the people you interact with daily what their issues are. Draw upon real-life experiences to give your opinions and commentary an even greater air of authority and realism. Keep an eye out for case studies – if you can supply the media with an angle and a real person who illustrates it, you become a much more attractive source of material.
  3. Put aside time to write and don’t look at it as a chore. If you have an aversion to writing, it’s helpful to actually have time scheduled to devote to it. It’s easy to put it off when you’re busy, so having time set aside each fortnight in your calendar, will put it top of mind.
  4. Consume your target media and put yourself in the audience’s place. If you want to be on Sunrise, start watching it and take note of the types of stories they cover and the way they’re presented. If you want to write and opinion piece for the SMH, read the pieces that others have written and look at the tone, language and the way they are framed.
  5. Carry a notebook or record memos. Sounds old-fashioned but sometimes inspiration comes at the most inconvenient times and if you’re busy it can be difficult to recall that brilliant idea, several hours later. Jot down the thoughts or send yourself a text to remind yourself.
  6. Check out the competition. If there are media commentators in your space who you see in the media on a regular basis, keep an eye on their appearances and engagements. Look at the platforms they’re using, the reporters who are quoting them and the stories they’re covering. Honestly gauge your media-readiness with them and work on any shortcomings in your skill set. If you aren’t confident in your ability to handle live tv or radio, get media training, it’s a worthwhile investment in your professional and personal development.

By John Solvander, Director of Media Engagement, Media Stable.

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